Q&A - I know my boss is breaking the law - what should I do?

09/01/2012

Q:  I work for a local delicatessen and I am aware that my manager frequently changes dates on food that has passed its ‘use by' date. I know this is in breach of food safety law and that it poses a risk that someone may become ill if they eat gone-off food. I feel very uncomfortable knowing all this - what should I do?

A:  Under the law, workers employment rights are protected and workers cannot be victimised in cases where they disclose wrongdoing by their employers on the basis that to do so is in the public interest.

The type of wrongdoing is limited to: criminal offences, failure to comply with a legal obligation, a miscarriage of justice, endangering the health and safety of individuals, damage to the environment or instances where any of these matters are deliberately concealed.

The disclosure must be made in good faith, you must believe the information is substantially true and you must also reasonably believe that you're disclosing the information to the ‘prescribed person' (i.e. to your employer, or through a process that your employer has agreed). You should check your employment contract to see if your employer has set out a process for whistle blowing.

If you feel unable to make a disclosure to your employer then there are other 'prescribed people' you can make a disclosure to. In your case, it will be to your local Environmental Health Department. The Department for Business Innovation and Skills has produced a helpful list of ‘prescribed persons' which can be found in the - ‘Employment Policy & Legislation' section on their website: www.bis.gov.uk.

If you are unsure, you should always seek legal advice and anything you say to your legal adviser will be confidential.

Robert Williams

Robert Williams

Partner

A Partner and Head of the Civil Litigation, Personal Injury and Dispute Resolution team in Wrexham